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It's Monday, April 30th at 1:30 in the morning. While the rest of the city of McComb, MS sleeps, animal control, volunteers, and foster parents are hard at work to load 27 dogs onto a transport truck. Where are they headed? SHPR (South Hills Pet Rescue) in South Park, PA!
Why are we sending so many dogs to Pennsylvania? There's an easy explanation. Most of the dogs we send are puppies and small breeds. As opposed to southern Mississippi, PA has stricter spay/neuter laws, and this means there's a definite lack of puppies for adoption. Lucky for them, southwest MS is overflowing with puppies! We also have an overabundance of bigger breeds, too. So we struck a deal with Pennsylvania: we send them the puppies they desperately want, and they'll take some of our big dogs in return.
Of the 27 dogs that left Monday, only two were large breeds. There's Barksley, a hound/ Lab mix who has been at the shelter since December, and Snow Bunny, a white Lab mix that came to the shelter emaciated and malnourished. She was skin and bones when we received her in March, but she's filled out and is looking so much healthier. These two will most certainly find forever homes quickly in PA.
McComb Animal Shelter makes its best attempts to send dogs on transport every month. This transport was the biggest the shelter has ever experienced, and we hope to have more like it in the future. But just because we sent out 27 dogs on Monday does not mean the shelter is empty. We have been relying on foster parents to take good care of some of our babies due to the shelter being beyond capacity. I, myself, fostered two of the twenty-seven, one being a rambunctious puppy named Opal, and the other a Dachshund mix named Buttercup.
I'd fallen in love with Buttercup from the moment I met her, and I nonstop implored my roommate to allow me to foster her. After a while, she gave in, and Buttercup lived with us for two weeks before leaving for transport. I'll admit, I returned her with a heavy, reluctant heart. The emotional bond that had formed was strong and tender, and there was a dreadful guilt resting within my chest when I kissed the top of her head goodbye. I've cried many tears over her since that morning, and she has left an enormous impact on my life. Even though my heart aches without her, I know she'll be adopted into a loving home that will give her so much more than I ever could.
Sending dogs on transport isn't as simple as loading some puppies on a truck and wishing them good luck. There is an immense amount of preparation that goes into something like this. Because of the large amount of dogs we had leaving, our shelter had to borrow a transport vehicle from a neighboring shelter. Sunday afternoon, the shelter manager and I spent hours thoroughly disinfecting, scrubbing, and rinsing the truck. While it required physical effort and determination, we finished before nightfall.
The owner of the transport vehicle and a volunteer drove four and a half hours to Memphis to meet our animal allies from Pennsylvania. From there, they swapped the dogs and paperwork, and soon our precious pups were on their way once again to the north. Once they've entered SHPR, our shelter manager will be updated on their progress and when they've been adopted.
Transports between shelters are an excellent way to move animals out of overcrowded shelters and find them their fur-ever homes. And here's something to remember: next time you encounter a shelter dog, ask where it came from. You might be pleasantly surprised.